Adoption Trauma | Addressing Abandonment & Attachment

adoption trauma

Adoption can be a positive life event. Most adopted children are well-adjusted and enjoy a stable family relationship. However, issues can arise in an individual who has been adopted. Abandonment and attachment issues can cause other problems, as a child grows and becomes an adult. Adoption trauma should be addressed constructively, along with addressing abandonment and attachment issues, to help the adoptee re-adjust and cope in a healthier manner.

Adoption Trauma

Trauma can occur because of an isolated incident or as a result of an ongoing circumstance that affects someone personally. Adoption trauma refers to the shock and pain of being permanently and abruptly separated from biological family members and can affect both the birth parent and the child who is being adopted, given the circumstances of the separation. The level of emotional and mental difficulty, as well as the long-term impact of adoption trauma, varies depending on the child’s age, maturity level, and other circumstances involved in the adoption.

Abandonment Issues

Research has found that a child who is placed for adoption may feel abandoned, even after being adopted. The child may experience symptoms of abandonment well into adulthood, including:

  • Aggression and angry behavior
  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness
  • Self-image problems
  • Daydreaming, as they try to make sense of their story and identity
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Nightmares

This sense of abandonment can also lead to interpersonal and relationship problems. The person who has been adopted, even if now living in a loving and stable home, has lost their birth parents as well as a sense of being biologically linked to other family members. The individual’s sense of loss may not be acknowledged or may be downplayed. Addressing abandonment and attachment issues is critical to helping the adopted person regain a sense of comfort and security.

Attachment Issues

Feeling abandoned early in life can lead to attachment issues in adults who have been adopted. Those early social experiences, including loss and rejection, create individual differences in security, which shape relational attitudes and behaviors. Being adopted may be associated with a sense of having been rejected or abandoned by birth parents, and of ‘‘not belonging.’’ Adoption may be linked with perceptions that the individual is unworthy of love and attention or that other people are unavailable, uncaring, and rejecting.

Reactive Detachment Disorder

A rare condition that can be part of a child’s adoption trauma, reactive attachment disorder (RAD) occurs when infants and young children who are subject to extreme neglect or abuse fail to establish an expected bond. A child with RAD, which is diagnosed from 9 months to 5 years of age, rarely seeks or responds to comfort when distressed, shows limited positive affect, and has unexplained episodes of irritability, sadness, or fearfulness in contact with caregivers.

Signs of RAD in infants and toddlers include a withdrawn appearance, a failure to smile, and a failure to react when parents or caregivers attempt to interact with them. Instead of seeking nurturing from a parent or caregiver, these children will attempt to nurture and soothe themselves. When distressed, they may calm down more quickly without the attention of an adult.

Substance Use Disorders

Adoption has been associated with increased cognitive development and cognitive competence; however, it has also been found to increase the individual’s risk for substance use disorders. A recent study found that the prevalence of any lifetime substance use disorder was 43% higher among adoptees (50.5%) compared to non-adoptees (35.4%). Lifetime prevalence rates of disorders involving legal substances were 41.0% (alcohol) and 25.4% (nicotine) among adoptees. In non-adoptees, the rates dropped to 27.5% (alcohol) and 16.1% (nicotine). Lifetime prevalence rates of disorders involving illegal substances ranged from 2.9% (opioid) to 13.2% (cannabis) among adoptees and from 1.3% (opioid) to 7.6% (cannabis) among non-adoptees.

Awareness of adopted persons and their adoptive parents to this risk may help in preventing the individual from using substances and in being alert to early signs and symptoms, providing the opportunity for a timely intervention to reduce the damage and increase the chance of recovery. These findings can also be useful for addressing adoption trauma, including abandonment and attachment issues, by providing education, prevention, and support for adoptees and their families.

Specialists in Adoption Trauma Treatment

The professionals at PACE Recovery Center understand the struggles you may encounter as an adoptee, particularly in regard to adoption trauma and abandonment and attachment issues. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you have been adopted or are an adoptive parent and struggle with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Our gender-specific, evidence-based addiction recovery center for men will help you begin the healing process and begin a remarkable journey. During these challenging times, our highly skilled team is adhering to COVID-19 guidelines to ensure you remain safe and healthy. You can reach us today at 800-526-1851.

The Relationship Between Homelessness and Addiction

relationship between homelessness and addictionHomelessness continues to be a significant problem in the US. Although the numbers had been trending down, in recent years they have been increasing again. A number of factors could contribute to a person becoming homeless. One of those factors is substance use. In addition, many people who find themselves homeless turn to drugs or alcohol as a result. So, the relationship between homelessness and addiction runs two ways.

Homelessness in the US

Over 500,000 people in the US are homeless on any given night. Approximately 65 percent are in homeless shelters, and the other 35 percent—just under 200,000—are unsheltered on the streets (in places such as sidewalks, parks, cars, or abandoned buildings). Homelessness almost always involves people facing desperate situations and extreme hardship. They must make choices among very limited options, often in the context of extreme duress, untreated mental illness, or substance abuse disorders.

The homeless include families and individuals. Of those individuals who are homeless, who make up about 67% of the homeless population in the US, over 260,000 are men and just over 106,000 are women.

Risk Factors

Severe mental illness, histories of incarceration, low incomes, weak social connections, as well as substance abuse problems each increase an individual’s risk of homelessness, and a higher level of occurrence in each of these factors may increase total homelessness. Of course, the vast majority of people with any of these issues is not homeless (even if all half a million homeless people faced all of these problems, there are millions of non-homeless Americans who face each problem as well).

Disproportionate Impact

The relationship between homelessness and substance abuse is complex, with studies suggesting that substance use can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness. Evidence indicates that substance abuse and overdose disproportionately impact homeless people.

A survey by the United States Conference of Mayors found that 68 percent of cities reported that substance abuse was the largest cause of homelessness for single adults. Substance abuse was also reported as one of the top three causes of family homelessness by 12 percent of cities.

In another study, 25 percent of homeless people surveyed, identified drug use as the primary reason for homelessness.

A study to determine the leading risk factors for homelessness among veterans indicated that substance abuse may have the highest impact on relative risk for homelessness in this population, even more so than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. And a 2015 study of found that the prevalence of homelessness in veterans with opioid use disorder is 10 times more than the general veteran population.

A study in Boston showed that overdose has surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death among homeless adults and that opioids are responsible for more than 80 percent of these deaths. Homeless adults, 25-44, were nine times more likely to die from an overdose than their counterparts who were stably housed.

Homelessness and Addiction

Alcohol and drug problems can be causes and consequences of homelessness, as well as co-occurring problems that complicate efforts for individuals to find stable housing. Although studies vary, research consistently shows over a third of individuals who are homeless experience alcohol and drug problems and up to two-thirds have a lifetime history of an alcohol or drug disorder.

According to the 2018 homeless point-in-time count, 111,122 homeless people (20 percent) had a severe mental illness and 86,647 homeless people (16 percent) suffered from chronic substance abuse. In addition, mortality rates among homeless persons are more than three times that of persons with some type of housing.

The Need for Treatment

Homeless people with opioid-use disorder experience significant barriers to treatment. Obstacles include social isolation, lack of available transportation, a fragmented delivery system, and complex treatment needs including co-occurring conditions.

Research has shown that integrated treatment that incorporates housing and employment components provides better health outcomes than the usual care for people who are homeless. Studies do confirm that with increased clinical support and connections to homeless services, including housing, homeless patients are statistically as likely as stably housed patients to successfully complete treatment programs. 

Addiction Treatment for Men in Southern California

When you are ready to seek help for your addiction, we are ready to help. At PACE, we know that addiction is a serious disease that can impact your life in many ways. PACE Recovery Center is focused on helping men in southern California who struggle with addiction take that first step toward the journey of recovery. The professionals at PACE can help you find structure, purpose, and accountability as you overcome your addictive behaviors. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

The Role of Sugar in Addiction

sugar addiction

Addiction is a brain disease that is demonstrated through compulsive substance use. That substance could be drugs, alcohol, or even sugar. People who are addicted have an intense focus on using that substance to the point where it can take over their life, without regard to the consequences. The role of sugar in addiction is complex, as it is involved in the addiction to certain drugs and it can be an addictive substance itself.

Sugar and Drug Addiction

Research studies have determined that chronic opioid exposure is associated with increased sugar intake.  There is strong evidence that opiate use and a preference for sweets are linked. Health conditions resulting from this type of substance use can include excess body fat, weight gain, dental issues, and abnormal blood sugar levels.

When the researchers studied heroin addicts, however, they found that they were typically underweight. Their condition was more than likely a result of spending more money on drugs than on food. Those heroin addicts who underwent methadone treatment typically demonstrated significant weight gain, possibly related to strong cravings for sweets during an extended period without using heroin.

The researchers advise that, in light of the growing body of evidence linking the opioid system to food intake and risk of obesity, proper exercise and dietary habits should be reinforced with opioid-dependent patients. Opiate antagonists, like naltrexone, appear to be at least weight neutral, and possibly weight reducing, by decreasing preference for sweet foods. 

An Addiction to Sugar

When the addiction is to sugar itself, that can also cause significant health issues. The role of sweets in addiction can sometimes be that sugar is the addictive substance itself. Eating sweet items releases opioids and dopamine in the body. Dopamine is the key part of the reward circuit associated with addictive behavior.

Regardless of whether the substance is a drug, alcohol, or sugar, it causes an excess release of dopamine, which then gives that pleasurable “high” feeling. The behavior is continuously repeated to re-experience the elation. The brain then adjusts to release less dopamine and the only way to continue to get the same “high” is to repeat the substance use in increasing amounts and frequency.

More Addicting Than Cocaine

Healthcare professionals, such as Cassie Bjork, RD, LD, believe that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine. Bjork says that “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more.” She adds that “Every time we eat sweets, we are reinforcing those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like any other drug.”

More Socially Acceptable

While studying the role of sugar in addiction, researchers from Connecticut College found that Oreo cookies activate more neurons in the pleasure center of rats’ brains than cocaine does (and, interestingly, just like humans, the rats would eat the filling first).

Eating sugar is more socially acceptable than doing drugs or drinking alcohol excessively. Sugar is also more prevalent and available as well as being harder to avoid. Eating Oreos is typically not questioned by friends or family, even though the consumption of sugar may become addictive and detrimental to the individual’s health.

Signs of Addiction

The signs of sugar addiction are very similar to the signs of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it may be time to reach out for help.

  • You hide your sugar consumption
  • You need more and more to satisfy the craving
  • You eat it even when you’re not hungry
  • You always crave sweets
  • You crave salty foods (cravings for salty and savory foods are one way that your body might be telling you to take a break from the sugar and eat something more nutritious)
  • You try to quit and have unusual symptoms
  • You use sugar to soothe
  • You know the potential consequences and eat it anyway
  • You go out of your way to get sugar
  • You have feelings of guilt about eating it

Addiction Treatment for Men in Southern California

Addiction is a serious disease that can impact your life in many ways. PACE Recovery Center is focused on helping men who struggle with addiction begin the journey of recovery. The professionals at PACE can help you find structure, purpose, and accountability as you overcome your addictive behaviors. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

Using Social Media Responsibly During COVID-19

using social media responsibly during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fewer opportunities to venture outside your home to go to the movies or to have dinner with friends. You probably find that you do have more time to stay home and scroll through social media sites. As you post and read others’ posts, keep in mind that using social media responsibly during COVID-19 is important for your mental health and for your continued recovery.

Billions on Social Media

When you use social media, you are definitely not alone. A survey conducted in July 2020 found that more than half of the world now uses social media. There are 4.57 billion people across the globe who use the Internet, including 346 million who have just come online within the past 12 months.

COVID-19 on Social Media

During COVID-19, many people are turning to social media for news and updates. Even if you are not purposely searching for information on the coronavirus outbreak, more than likely you will find posts about the virus as you scroll through social media sites. A separate survey conducted by Gallup in April 2020 revealed that 46% of social media users said that “almost all” or “most” of what they see is about the coronavirus situation and an additional 37% said “about half” is.

In addition, over two-thirds of social media users say coronavirus-related posts that they see from public officials (70%) and news organizations (68%) are “very” or “moderately” helpful. Fifty-seven percent say the same about posts from family members and friends, while fewer say so about posts from neighbors (43%).

Social Media for Connection During COVID-19

You may be using social media during COVID-19 to reconnect with friends and family. The April 2020 Gallup poll also found that seventy-four percent of Americans who use social media say it has been “very” or “moderately” important to them personally as a way to stay connected with people who are close to them that they may not be able to see in person during the coronavirus situation. And 63% say the same about the ability to stay connected with people in their city, town, or local community. 

When you are not able to visit friends and family in person, social media can be a useful tool for keeping in touch. Using social media responsibly during COVID means, though, not sharing too much personal information online. Even when you think that only your friends can see what you post, messages can find their way through the virtual world to places that you don’t want them to go.

Manage Your Time

When you have nothing else to do, you may think there is nothing wrong with spending hours on social media. When you are using social media responsibly during COVID, you will limit your screen exposure, so it does not consume all of your time. Social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps. If you are spending more time on social media than on other constructive activities, it could affect your mental health.

Just the Facts

When using social media responsibly, focus purely on facts and verifiable information in the posts you read as well as your own posts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a phenomenon coined by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as a “pandemic of misinformation” has arisen on social media platforms. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have seen news and information about the disease that seemed completely made up, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Social Media Overload

As you are using social media responsibly during COVID, you will find that spending less time online and focusing on verifiable facts rather than rumors can be beneficial to your mental health. A number of research studies have concluded that low levels of social media usage are associated with better mental health. In fact, it has been discovered that people who limit their social media use to half an hour a day have significantly lower depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to a control group.

One large-scale study found that people who are occasional users of social media are almost three times less likely to be depressed than those who are heavy users. Another study revealed that younger people who use social media more than two hours per day are much more likely to rate their mental health as “fair” or “poor” compared with those who are occasional users.

Mental Health Treatment for Men During COVID-19

The professional team at PACE Recovery Center specializes in helping men who are faced with mental health challenges, including trauma and PTSD related issues. We also work with those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol who are looking for a more fulfilling life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize you may need help now more than ever. We are open and have put in place a stringent set of protocols to protect your health and safety. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get started on your path to lasting recovery. Please call us today at 800-526-1851.

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